Test Drives

Mazda CX-5 2019 Review: More to the fore



Mazda can’t stop tinkering with the CX-5, so it gets a number of small but worthwhile updates for 2019

SINGAPORE — Mazda’s ongoing revival started with this, the CX-5. The first one’s launch in 2012 was timely, coinciding with a boom in Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs), and it ushered in both Kodo, the brand’s sharp design direction, and SkyActiv, its current engineering philosophy.

Buyers loved both, and Mazda’s global sales have climbed every year since that first CX-5 flew out of showrooms.

No wonder the brand can’t seem to stop tinkering with it. The CX-5 got a redesign in 2017, and last year came a revamped 2.5-litre engine with cylinder deactivation (a fuel-saving measure). Now 2019 is here, which means even more updates. Read on to find out what they are.

A new CX-5? Again?
Well, not new, but updated. The 2019 model year (call it MY19) gets a raft of minor changes, just to keep it fresh. Mazda execs have told us that its engineers are a restless sort, so you can expect plenty of fiddling and, as a result, steady improvement across the various models.

Are they big changes?
Nothing huge. Remember, this is an MY19 car, not a facelift. That said, the 17-inch wheels on the 2.0L models have a new, darker finish, while there’s a new design for the 19-inch wheels used on the 2.5L models

Presumably there’s more?
Of course, but it depends on which CX-5 you buy. It still comes in four flavours — two versions of a 2.0L (Standard Plus and Premium) and two of 2.5L (Luxury and Super Luxury), of which we drove the most expensive.

All four come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto now, which is useful if you’re addicted to your smartphone. Come to think of it, it’s useful even if you’re not. Plug that iPhone in and you can dictate WhatsApp messages, call up your music library with the Mazda’s rotary controller, Google Map your way around, and so on.

That’s one of the more major changes, but there are subtler updates.

Such as?
Well, how about rear seatbelt warning lights?

Very subtle indeed… but anything new mechanically?
Actually, there’s a small tweak to the G Vectoring Control System (GVC).

Remember, that cuts ignition for a tiny reduction in engine power when the driver turns the wheel, which shifts weight onto the front tyres a little and helps the CX-5 feel better planted.

The new GVC Plus system also gently applies some braking to the outside front wheel when you exit a corner, which helps to straighten the car up. It’s all very discreet stuff, but if BMW did something like this the car magazines would all be falling over themselves to say what a brilliant system it is.

True. But how about stuff that I might find more tangible?
In terms of useful equipment, you should really spring for the 2.0L Premium or the 2.5L models. Those all come with a 360 degree view monitor, which is brilliant for parking. They also have a new digital speedo (nice to look at, but not super useful) and ventilated front seats (nothing to look at, but super useful in our climate).

Any reason to get the Super Luxury model?
Well, that one is the CX-5 for you if you want to spoil yourself. It comes with a frameless rear view mirror, real wood trim, LED cabin lighting, soft Nappa leather that’s a very subtle red, that sort of stuff.

All that comes at a S$5,000 premium over the 2.5L Luxury.

But there’s one thing worth pointing out.

What’s that?
The 2.5-litre engine attracts a S$10,000 pollution surcharge, so the best CX-5 to buy is probably the 2.0L Premium — it’s doesn’t enrich the tax man as much but is still well equipped.

It still comes with convenient items such as powered front seats, a power tailgate, blind spot monitors and a head-up display system.

The 2.5-litre engine is more lively, of course, but cars like this are more about space and comfort than driver enthusiasm, and the 2.0L does a superb job of balancing ride quality with taut handling.

The MY19 CX-5s might have subtle updates, but it’s what has stayed the same about them that matters.

Mazda CX-5 2.5L Super Luxury
Engine 2,488cc, inline 4
Power 194hp at 6,000rpm
Torque 258Nm at 4,000rpm
Gearbox 6-speed automatic
Top speed 201km/h
0-100km/h 8.9 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.2L/100km
CO2/VES  164g/km/C1
Price
 S$164,800 (with Certificate Of Entitlement)
Agen: Trans Eurokars Pte Ltd
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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.